SUMMER OF THE FROGS

By Katrina Covington Whitmore

It all began innocently enough. A very good friend of mine who is also a business partner – she sells high-quality jewelry and I make handmade knitted dolls that we sell at local art shows and crafts festivals, were checking out an area festival with an eye to applying to have a booth there next year. While strolling around and examining vendor types and their wares, we came across a booth selling plants – very exotic plants. Intrigued, we both went in to look a little more closely. These were some strange looking plants. They had these little water-filled pouches all around that were a part of them, and if you looked closely in some of them you could see something floating in the liquid. It turns out the plants were called pitcher plants and they were a variation of the Venus fly trap:

Now I hate bugs – I’m deathly afraid of most of them, and pretty much think the only good bug is a dead bug. The South where I live is bug-filled…lots and lots of bugs…and they grow them big. I spend a lot of the summer screaming and running, or spraying – I have a can of bug spray in just about every room of my house for easy access. So maybe I was thinking this plant could help in the war against bugs by consuming a few. Gripped by the same sentiment (plus we had just purchased these really cute plant holders and containers), Lisa bought one of these not-cheap plants, and I bought two. We listened carefully to care instructions and brought them home. For several weeks I diligently kept distilled water in the little pouches, collected rainwater for them and took them outside when there was shade on my patio – as jungle plants they don’t like direct sunlight. And then I caught my first bug:

Freaked/creeped me out! What if it caught one of those big water bugs?! How long would it take to digest? What if all the pouches caught bugs? I’d have two plants full of half-digested bugs! What was I thinking? So I gingerly picked up the plant container and set it outside – the plants’ new home. I continued to collect rainwater and provide shade, and they seemed to be flourishing…and then one day, I noticed movement…moving closer, I noticed something moving around the foliage:

It was a frog…a small frog…but a frog. Now, I’m not particularly crazy about frogs, but I’m not really afraid of them…not really… I went and got the garden hose, sprayed, and the little froggie jumped out… That was that, I thought…until it rained…looking outside from one of the large windows in my family room, I noticed something on my windowsill — there were two frogs there, just chillin’:

And then I noticed another one! Was this one looking at me?!

Okay, I may not be afraid…really…but I sure didn’t want them hanging out at my house! Where were they coming from? After it stopped raining, armed with my garden hose, I went to knock the three on my windowsill off…and saw to my horror, that they had company! There were frogs on the walls of my house, on other windowsills, on the patio – they were everywhere! So I sprayed and sprayed…and they hopped away…

I thought I was rid of them…and then I happened to look over at my pitcher plant:

It was TEEMING with frogs!!! Okay, this was getting a little ridiculous…where was I anyway? Egypt? Was I in the middle of a plague? And WHY were they swarming the pitcher plant? After lively conversations with a number of people we reached the conclusion that since frogs ate bugs, they were probably in the plant to ambush bugs. Of course after reaching that conclusion, you know that meant the death knell for the plants…I tried to be compassionate…first I set them further away, but still on the patio…but it still seemed that every time I looked outside, there would be a frog on my windowsill looking back at me…it was worse at night…the suckers on their feet allowed them to cling to the actual window, so sometimes there would be eight or more frogs on my window…more on the patio French doors…more hanging on the side of the house…it was the creepiest thing you ever saw:

I stopped going out there after sunset…even before then was dicey…and I had this lurking fear that one or more would get into the house….so the plants got moved again…this time into the middle of the yard…it didn’t help – the frogs kept coming. The plants had to go. So the next garbage day I placed them both in a large garbage bag, tossed them in the trash can…and watched the garbage truck carry them away…I had visions of a horde of frogs chasing the truck:

Now, how to get rid of the ones I still had? I received much advice from fascinated observers — and tried them all. One called for a vinegar-salt mixture sprayed around – it helped, but they were still coming. Next I tried kosher salt, sprinkling it on the patio, the windowsill, around the sides of the house…and then I came upon my first petrified frog:

I felt like a murderer. After getting a guy friend of mine to move it – I wasn’t going to touch it…I pondered what to do…In the end we reached a compromise…of sorts…every morning I would spray the vinegar-salt concoction which seemed to keep most of them away – not all – but most…and in the evening if I looked outside and saw one or more looking back at me…I just closed the blinds…You want to know what finally resolved the problem? Good old Mother Nature…also known as COLD WEATHER!

Now that the plants are long gone and the cold weather polished off the frogs still hanging around…I pray that I don’t have a repeat come warmer weather…keeping fingers crossed…and we won’t even TALK about the advent of the flies….

THE END

On a final note, if you enjoyed the saga of the frogs story, here’s a final fun frog activity:

Can you solve the Frog Sudoku?

Have Fun!